Pre-E3 2013 – Wolfenstein: The New Order Hands-On Preview – “Fuck You, Moon!”
Written Tuesday, June 04, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
If you were a 1990s gamer, three franchises will stick out as industry-defining at that time: Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein. Sure, there were other franchises, but these were the Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo of that era. Attempts to revive those franchises have come and gone in the 21st century, but none have really captured the spirit and made the same impact that the originals once did.
Wolfenstein: The New Order may change all that. Developed by Swedish studio MachineGames, a developer made up of more than a few former Starbreeze developers, The New Order looks to meld Starbreeze’s trademark storytelling with the balls-to-the-wall action that you’d expect from a Wolfenstein game, and guess what? The early signs are promising.
Ever wondered what the 1960s would have been like if the Nazis had won the war? Ever wondered what a blonde haired action hero type would do if that was the case? Wonder no more, because The New Order has you covered there. Starring franchise protagonist, William Joseph "BJ" Blazkowicz, players will be thrown into a world of carnage and destruction to wage war against the ruthless Nazis. The New Order isn’t your standard shooter set in the 60s though, oh no. The totalitarian state is home to technological advancements that are so ahead of our current levels that you can only wonder what happened, and that’s part of the lure.
Our time with the new Wolfenstein was two-fold, the first, a playable cutscene of sorts aboard a train with BJ, the psychotic Nazi general, Frau Engel, and her boy toy. It’s a sequence of events that has Frau Engel test BJ’s loyalty to the Nazi cause –with him obviously being undercover. It’s a tense sequence of events as Engel has him pick cards laid on the table to determine his true intentions and his character, but she also taunts him by placing a gun right next to his hand – do you go for the gun and put a dent in the Nazi cause right now or do you play along?
Obviously, for the purposes of the demonstration, BJ played along. It was only a short scene, probably about five minutes in real time, but it’s exactly the kind of storytelling you’d expect from Starbreeze, and can only be described as something more akin to a few of the sequences in the original Darkness title or its hugely popular Riddick games.
The majority of our time with The New Order was spent hands-on with a level set in London with the goal of capturing the blueprint for a prototype chopper. This is the other side of Wolfenstein: The New Order: the aforementioned balls-to-the-wall crazy.
For all intents and purposes, Wolfenstein takes the best of the 90s and melds it with the best of the noughties. You’ll be looting bodies for goodies, collecting health packs and armour, cracking safes for ancient artefacts that boost BJ’s abilities and more. There’s more than one or two nods to the classic 90s game.
On the other hand, Starbreeze hasn’t forgotten about the advancements in the FPS genre since then. Health regeneration, for instance. Your health will only regenerate up to the closest increment of 20, so to get above that, you need to pick up health packs. And yes, you can have more than 100 in health and armour, and yes, it degrades just like it did back in the day.
It doesn’t take long from picking up the controller before we’re in the thick of the action. After escaping a mechanical dog patrolling the now decimated entrance to the London Nautica, the home to the Nazi’s top research projects, we’re thrown into the building’s lobby, with Nazis coming out of every nook and cranny.
Dual wielding burst pistols – most weapons of the same type can be dual-wielded in The New Order – we fly into the lobby without a care in the world. Leaning in and out of cover, we systematically rip the once pristine lobby to pieces, watching as our bullets tear holes in every Nazi officer that is unfortunate to get in our way and marvelling at the pillared tiles getting peppered by our bullet spray.
We can’t hide our smug expression after freeing the lobby from oppression, meanwhile BJ can’t hide his disgust at a series of Nazi plaques lauding that they’d put a Nazi on the moon.
“You put a Nazi on the moon?” BJ asks himself, “Fuck you moon!” he remarks. BJ in a lot of ways is effectively a more high brow Duke from Duke Nukem. Just as testosterone fuelled, but with wittier comments, less misogyny and objectified women.
From the lobby we burst into a space museum of sorts dual-wielding shotguns and later dual-wielding rifles. We make quick work of the drones and Nazis patrolling the walkways that surround a huge – and destructible – moon sculpture in the middle of the room, surrounded by huge gold statues.
For such a relatively early stage in development, the controls are tight, responsive and ridiculously easy. You’ll be leaning in and out of cover, sliding across the floor and dispatching enemies with your dual-wielded guns in no time whatsoever. The only immediate problems seems to be how awkward it is to switch weapons and the lack of signposting available, but those are things that are easy enough to switch on the fly so we’re sure those issues will be ironed out before launch.
One of the cooler tools in the New Order is the blow torch, allowing you to cut holes in fences, grates and what not, sometimes with the intention of getting further into the level, sometimes with the intention of finding some well-stashed goodies. It’s an upgradeable tool too, and after escaping the museum and solving a fairly easy puzzle mid-mission, we’re rewarded with the Laserkraftwerk, a more powerful beam, one whose second alt-fire is a beasty blast worthy of dealing a crushing blow to most adversaries. It’s not an unlimited resource though, so use it wisely!
The final main section of the hands-on sees us enter a huge helicopter hangar, with hulking guard robots and Nazis protecting their valuable assets. Here we adopted for more of a stealth approach, using our knife to take down a few silent Nazis who were isolated. We get careless though and our timing is off, leading to a frenetic battle with dozens of soldiers and 12-foot tall guard robots.
There’s no time for tact here, as we bust out the shotguns and dash in and out of cover in the huge hangar. “Go big or go home,” mutters BJ, moments before a 20-foot guard robot turns up to upset the party. With smart use of cover, the alt-fire on the Laserkraftwerk, we were able to take down the huge robot, ending the demo, leaving us with a lot to take in from the last 40 minutes or so.
As we've already mentioned, early signs are promising for MachineGames’ Wolfenstein: The New Order. There seems to be enough to appease classic Wolfenstein fans in The New Order, as well as enough to appease newer FPS fans. Couple that with the glimpse of the trademark Starbreeze storytelling we’ve all come to love, and The New Order could really be the Wolfenstein game we want and deserve. Keep an eye on this one, folks.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is scheduled for a late 2013 release on current-gen and next-gen platforms.